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Toxicol Sci. 2009 Jan;107(1):206-19. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfn221. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Cadmium-induced differential toxicogenomic response in resistant and sensitive mouse strains undergoing neurulation.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Common inbred mouse strains, such as the C57BL/6 (C57) and the SWV, display differences in sensitivity to environmental teratogens during gestation. For example, the C57 is more sensitive than the SWV to cadmium (Cd) exposure during neurulation, inducing a higher incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs). Here, we report, using Cd as a model teratogen, the first large scale toxicogenomic study to compare teratogen-induced gene expression alterations in C57 and SWV embryos undergoing neurulation, identifying toxicogenomic responses that associate with developmental toxicity and differential sensitivity. Using a systems-based toxicogenomic approach, comparing Cd-exposed and control C57 and SWV embryos (12- and 24-h postinjection [p.i.] [gestational day 8.0, ip]), we examined differentially expressed genes at multiple levels (biological process, pathway, gene) using Gene Ontology (GO) analysis, pathway mapping and cross-scatter plots. In both C57 and SWV embryos, we observed several gene expression alterations linked with cell cycle-related classifications, however, only in the C57 we observed upregulation of p53-dependent mediators Ccng1 and Pmaip1, previously associated with cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and NTD formation. In addition, we also identified a greater reduction in expression of nervous system development-related genes (e.g., Zic1, En2, Neurog1, Elavl4, Metrn, Nr2f1, Nr2f2) in the C57 compared to the SWV (12-h p.i.). In summary, our results indicate that differences in Cd-induced gene expression profiles between NTD resistant and sensitive strains within enriched biological processes (including developmental and cell cycle-related categories) associate with increased sensitivity to developmental toxicity as determined by observations of increased NTD formation, mortality (resorptions) and reduced fetal growth. Such observations may provide more detailed and useful mechanistic clues for identification of differences in life-stage specific teratogenic response.

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